It wasn’t long ago that I was on a boat with 48 other Revgals and during an ice breaker sort of activity, these three questions were asked: Do you have a tattoo? Would you consider getting one someday? You will never ever get a tattoo? If you know you me you know where I fell into that group back in February — I would never ever get a tattoo.
Tattoo’s were not overly attractive to me (for the most part) and I was deathly afraid of the pain they would cause. I respected and loved others who had them but I was certain that they were just not for me. In addition to these reasons, I had nothing I thought that I wanted imprinted on me forever for everyone to see.
Then a couple of weeks ago both my husband and I stumbled along the semicolon project. A project that seemed to fit my life in more ways that I can count or describe. I suffer from clinical depression, extreme anxiety, and Fibromyalgia. All of which can often just build upon each other and cause my depression to take me to deep dark places and often lend me to think about putting a period in my life.
Yet I also worship and serve a loving God that is with me always and has saved me from putting a period and placed a semicolon on more than one account. I know in my head I have much to live for and be thankful for – a beautiful little boy (ok not so little at 9 but still my baby), a loving husband, wonderful friends, a calling to live my life as a servant to a God who sent his only son so that I might have life and life abundantly.
I have taken my experiences in childhood and my depression and tried to allow them to help me be a better pastor. All of which help me empathize and at times truly understand on a deep level what the people God has allowed to cross my path are going through. I can at times share my experience and it helps them know that they are not alone. I’m also an advocate for better mental health care and have preached sermons where I point out the church’s difficulties caring for and understanding mental health issues and the way it affects the whole family not just the person suffering. I in no way believe that God caused me to suffer as a child, to have depression, anxiety or the chronic pain of fibromyalgia. I do, however, believe that God can and does use these experiences to enhance my call as pastor and as a person who lives in a world inflicted with the darkness and pain of childhood mistreatment, depression, anger, violence, pain and the list could go on and on. I can often sense one’s pain and am for the most part able to sit with them as they share or struggle to find God in the midst of their own experiences.
My husband has been extremely supportive of me for almost 20 years of knowing each other (it will be 20 years that we meet and started dating in about a month). When he read about the Project Semicolon, he knew exactly that we would be doing this for my birthday. His passion and support were what made me consider getting a tattoo. If he was willing to have a semicolon permanently placed on his wrist in support of my daily struggle then why shouldn’t I be willing. Not only will it serve as a moment by moment reminder to me to take a deep breath and even pause and remember that God is God and with me always; that it’s not time for my story to end but continue, it will also serve as another way to be an advocate for mental health and suicide prevention as I share the story of why a semicolon.
Here’s pictures of my forty-second birthday — a day I will never forget.
It’s hard to believe another Friday is here — so that mean’s it’s Friday Five time again over at Revgalblogpals. Here’s today’s questions and ponderrings:
Hello gals and pals,
It’s the second Friday of the month, and you know what that is~~~Random Friday Five! Have fun, and enjoy! (as always, let us know that you played in the comments–whether you play in the comments, link to your blog, or on Facebook!)
1. How do you sign off in your emails, professional and personally? For example, you say “Blessings”,
“Take Care”, “Remember, the Devil is watching you” (o.k. just kidding on that one.) Let us know and why…
2. If you were an animal TODAY, what is it and why?
3. If you get snarky, what triggers it? If you don’t get snarky, please, what is the secret?
4. Look up from your computer/tablet/phone screen. What is the first favorite thing your eyes land on. Describe it. (For example, I just did this, and my eyes landed on a little angel made out of multicolored wires whose head and wings are quite askew because of being chewed upon by my puppy. That aside, I love it because it was a gift from two little girls who came often to my office in my last call to play with all the tshotke on my table. They wanted to add to it.)
5. Do you have a favorite pair of socks? Tell us about them!
1. Depends on the content and audience of my emails — for church stuff I almost always use Blessings, Pastor Kelly, for friends it might be blessings, might be love followed by Kelly or simply K. I also have a signature line for my professional it has job title and contact info for my very personal account there is a knitting quote.
2. I think my animal choice for today would be a dog because I could get lots of snuggles and yet if at a dog park — I’d be able to run free. Both of which describe my complex being today.
3. If I get snarky it should be worded for me — when I get snarky — mostly when I’m exhausted physically, emotionally and spiritually exhausted. But it can happen easily if my fibro is flaring and I’m full of pain and someone says something without thinking.
4. Owls — I love owls and sheep and owls tend to decorate my bedroom so I have some clings on my walls and a knitted owl on my dresser.
5. My favorite socks are the ones I knit but my really favorite are the ones I knit for Dear Husband, littleman and I — yup we all have matching socks.
I just had the opportunity to spend a few days with ring member St. Casserole. I still remember the first blogpost of hers I read, both its detail and its whimsy, but at the time I had no thought we would ever meet and become friends “in real life,” as they say. Still, I encountered something in her turn of phrase that made me come back again and again, and eventually led to both a trip to her part of the world to volunteer after Hurricane Katrina and to the founding of RevGalBlogPals.
In this week some of us are preaching about a woman who encounters Jesus at the well, please name five encounters in your life leading to unexpected results. They might include learning a new skill, making a friend, falling in love, discerning a call or anything around or far off from those ideas.
- In the summer of 2003 I was in my second pastorate and went to the Interprovincial Women’s Conference that the Moravian Church in north America holds every 4 years. I meet lots of folks at these conferences and many of them seem to know who I am but I feel so bad because often I don’t recall who they are. Female clergy are almost always being asked to talk or rather listen and offer prayer. But 2003 brought a different encounter for me. I met someone who herself was feeling called to ministry and was my age. We hung out a bunch and I believe I was with her when she received word from home that she had been accepted at Duke divinity School. I prayed for her often but our paths didn’t really cross again for 5 years when she was asked to be the lay delegate and I the clergy delegate for a consultation that was to be held in Herrnhut Germany. How elated I was when I found out who would be my traveling companion and together we did travel from Raleigh to London, London to Prague (where we spent a few days) and then by train and eventually bus from Prague to Herrnhut Germany (our moravian home, so to speak). But not only did we travel the world together our spirits were united in a friendship that today spans several states. She’s my biggest supporter when it comes to taking time to care of myself and she helps me help the church see mental illness as something we need to do more than talk about. She has become one of my dearest friends and without her I can’t imagine my life. Daily I thank God for text messages, Facebook and other sources of modern technology.
- In a similar way I was at a youth convocation while in college and my room-mate and I had no idea who each other was. She was from North Carolina and I from Western Canada. We chatted at night but didn’t really hang out as we travelled in different circles that week. Fast forward several years and we would almost be room mates again but this time at Moravian Theological Seminary. Her apartment was on the same floor as my soon to be husband and my first year of marriage my husband often jokes he thought he was married to both of us – as he would often have to kick us out of our apartment so he could go to bed….but we would just pick up bookes and our Pepsis and move on over to her apartment. Both of us ordained now and we’ve never served any closer than 5 hours from one another but our friendship spans the states as we seek to support one another in ministry, motherhood, and basic day to day issues of juggling husbands, children, congregations, and our personal lives. I’m blessed beyond measure by her friendship and the knowledge that I know she’s only a call away whenever I need a familar and comforting voice…..the icing on the cake is that she gets being a couple in ministry as her husband to is clergy. But the cherry on top is that she blessed my life with a God daughter to love and by girly things for.
- While serving our second church my husband and I suffered several miscarriages and then infertility. I carried one baby into my second trimester and ended up having to have a D&E. I was eaten up over it and had lots of questions. Normally I could turn to my husband for support but he was grieving also and we were at different places. I turned to a bishop who I barely knew. (In the Moravian church a bishops primary function is to be a pastor to the pastors, at that time and currently there were/are no female bishops in the south). This bishop listened to me as I cried and grieved the loss of children, the longing to be a mother and the wondering of the theological implications of where my babies were. But he also listened as I wondered if any of the trauma I had suffered as a child had any implications as to why I couldn’t have children – was God punishing me I wondered. He never judged and has never judged me. He gently reassured me and reminded me that I am a beloved child of God. To this day he’s my pastor! When we moved to the metro Atlanta area and adopted our son, it was he who travelled to baptize him – so that day Joe and I could be mommy and daddy. It was he who visited me while I was on leave recently and he who visits our littleman when he has been sick and hospitalized. Why is he an unlikely encounter – because of the trust I have for him!
- While in seminary I was also blessed to have a counsellor who later became more of a mentor. She hugged me when I cried, she guided me through many life transitions – especially from being single to being married. She listened and when all I could see was darkness she saw the light. The light of Christ that surrounded me and was within me. To this day when something significant happens she’s on my list of people to call to ask for prayers, to ask for advice or to simply just listen.
- I’m a knitter – not the greatest knitter – but when you are a knitter you find that knitters bound together in ways that are unexplainable. I’ve got great friends whom I’ve never met but whom I text on a regular basis, I daily interact with a group of knit biters on ravelry that are truly my fiber loving sisters. While in the Atlanta area I knit with a group of eclectic ladies on Friday nights that I knew had my back if I ever needed them. We supported one another and helped one another in knitting projects but more importantly in life. And even in my current setting I’ve got friends that the only reason our paths crossed was our love of yarn and our favorite yarn store.
- Okay I have 6 – I would be missing two of the most important people if I didn’t bend the rules just a bit. My husband, my soul mate, my partner in life and ministry. It’s he who picks up after me when I’m unable to do so myself. God richly blessed me that first day of seminary in the first person I met – neither of us knew two years later we would be saying “I do”! Together we have an 8 year old littleman who reminds us to take time and play, who makes us laugh on a daily basis and is forever keeping us on our toes.
Thanks for a great Friday five (or six), reminds me how blessed I truly am. Truth be told I could have named five or so more folks whose encounters have impacted my life beyond my wildest imagination. Thanks be to God for having my path cross with so many amazing men and women!
It’s been sometime that creating a blog has been floating around my mind but I just couldn’t seem to get it together. I couldn’t come up with a name and when I did, it was taken. Then I couldn’t get the fears out of my mind: would I write anything that would make any sense or would anyone really read it. So today I just decided to do it! I didn’t have to meet anyone’s expectations (except my own), so here it goes, my entry into the blogging world!
I will likely blog about the way my passions and my life are knit together. My passions in life are my family, different sorts of fiber (yarn and fabric), creations made by those fibers,and learning to live as a child of God’s. Sometimes my life is enhanced by ministry or the funny antics of a growing littleman, while other times its restricted with having to follow a gluten free diet and living with chronic pain. Regardless life is a journey and I invite you to journey with me and I pray we may learn from each other!